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Booker will not appear on primary ballot in Vermont

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) is taking a pass in Vermont’s Democratic presidential primary. 

The New Jersey senator won’t appear on the state’s primary ballot when voters head to the polls in March, according to a list of qualified candidates released by the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office on Tuesday. Candidates had until 5 p.m. on Monday to submit the paperwork required to get on the ballot.

Julia McClain Downey, the director of state communications for Booker’s campaign, said that the New Jersey senator decided to forego a run in Vermont due to the state’s requirement that a candidate win at least 15 percent in order to be awarded any delegates. 

Instead, she said, Booker’s campaign will direct resources to other states. 

“We are focused on using our campaign’s resources in the most efficient and effective way possible to win the Democratic primary and go on to defeat Donald Trump,” she said. “In this case, given Vermont’s 15 percent threshold requirement to receive delegates, we have decided to direct our efforts elsewhere to best achieve our goals and objectives.”

An aide to Booker said that Vermont’s 15 percent threshold combined with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) significant home state advantage there were behind the campaign’s decision to punt on the ballot-access requirements.

The aide noted that Vermont’s requirement that presidential candidates collect and verify 1,000 valid signatures to get on the primary ballot also factored into the campaign’s decision not to compete in Vermont.

Indeed, Sanders is the favorite to win his home state in the 2020 primary contest. 

A Morning Consult survey released in July found Sanders to be the most popular senator in the country among his constituents with a 65-percent approval rating. And he trounced Hillary Clinton in Vermont’s 2016 Democratic primary, scoring 86 percent of the vote to her roughly 14 percent.

But Booker’s decision to eschew the Vermont primary entirely may signal that his campaign doesn’t have the resources to compete in all of the same states as his rivals.

With only 23 delegates, the Vermont offers the fifth smallest delegate haul out of any state in the Democratic primary contest, meaning that by Booker’s not putting much at risk by not competing there. The state holds its primary on Super Tuesday along with 13 other states, including delegate-rich California and Texas.

He lagged far behind the Democratic primary field’s top tier in fundraising last quarter, bringing in roughly $6 million. And he has struggled to break out of low-single digits in national and early state polls – a trend that led to his failure to qualify for the next presidential debate on Thursday.

Still, he’s not the only candidate that won’t be on the primary ballot in Vermont. Also missing is Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), two bottom-tier candidates who have tied their prospects in the Democratic nominating contest to strong finishes in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.

One other candidate, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, has not yet made it onto Vermont’s primary ballot, but was granted additional time to file a supplementary petition with the secretary of state’s office.

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